Last Summer I got so many questions about digital interactive notebooks. I’d never used them before so I decided to play around with them this year in my classroom. I have been using a paper composition notebook with my students for the last nine years, and I wasn’t ready to give it up just yet. I decided to pilot them in my elective classes to see how they might work for me in my classroom.
What are the benefits of a digital interactive notebook?
- They are better for the environment. I try to conserve paper as often as possible in my classroom, and digital notebooks would make it so that there is almost no paper used in my classroom.
- Work can’t be lost (mostly!). Middle school students are notorious for losing things. Google Apps saves everything automatically so nothing is ever truly lost. (However, this doesn’t mean that your students won’t have trouble finding them.)
- Digital notebooks give students a space that can be used to organized digital content. I am using digital content more and more often in my classroom. Students regularly create and annotate graphs, do simulations, write arguments, and engage in peer editing using Google Apps. Students have some material online, and some in their notebook. Going digital means that all of these great things could live in one place.
- Accessibility! There are endless options for making your content more accessible for all of your students when you use a digital platform. Students can use text to speech, video captioning, adjust font sizes and colors and translate materials when they are digital.
Using Google Slides for Digital Notebooks
When I started researching methods for using digital notebooks, just about every resource I found suggested using Google Slides for the notebook. With Google Slides, each slide acts as a different notebook page. Students can add various content to each slide. Google slides is ideal for creating diagrams, annotating graphs and filling out graphic organizers, as well as many other tasks. However, I found that it was difficult for my students to find their work within the slides. Also, it was more difficult to organize material if the task did not fit on to a single google slide.
Using the Table Of Contents Method for Digital Notebooking
For me, slides weren’t the best option. Instead, I created a digital notebook around the table of contents. The table of contents is a common component of an interactive notebook.
In the video I use I outline the method that I used for using a table of contents for creating a digital notebook that my student could use to organize their content.
View this video on YouTube.
How do you assign tasks and help students keep track of what belongs in the notebook?
This is the number one question that I get on this post. So, after doing some thinking, I have come up with a strategy that works really well.
I have created a separate topic in Google Classroom™ for my digital notebook. Here, I include a copy of the Table of Contents. Also, I post the things that should be included on each page.
By creating a separate topic, students always know what should be included in their notebooks.
How can digital notebooks be used in a distance learning setting?
This year, I made the decision to stick to a paper composition book. Unfortunately, when we moved to distance learning, many of those paper composition books got left behind.
Because of the uncertainty surrounding the Coronavirus situation, my plan is to use a digital interactive notebook in all of my classes next year.
Are you ready to do more online?
If you are interested in using a digital platform more often, here are some resources that will help get you started.
- How to Make PDFs editable Using Google Slides
- Using Google Sheets to Create Digita Graphs
- Using Google Slides for Digital Graph Annotations
- Digital Lesson Planning
What questions do you have about digital notebooks? Comment below!
*Originally posted May 25, 2019* Last updated January 4, 2021*